Ontario sets timeline for indoor stadiums to gradually lift capacity restrictions

Toronto Maple Leafs fans celebrate their team's first goal of the game against the Montreal Canadiens during first period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. (CP/file)

The province of Ontario says it expects professional sports stadiums will be allowed to return to 100 per cent capacity in mid-March.

The announcement came as part of a three-step plan the province outlined Thursday as it slowly re-opens from a strict public health lockdown imposed earlier this month.

Currently, indoor sports facilities are allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity or 500 spectators, whichever number is lower. That restriction will remain in place until Feb. 21, when the province says it expects spectator capacity will be able to rise to 50 per cent. The province adds that it expects capacity limits to be completely lifted on March 14. All proof of vaccination requirements and other public health measures will remain in place for fans attending games.

The NHL announced a number of schedule changes Wednesday after nearly 100 games were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks and stadium capacity restrictions across Canada. The Maple Leafs have five more home games scheduled to be played in an empty Scotiabank Arena and an additional five scheduled to be played in front of 50 per cent capacity. The Ottawa Senators have 11 home games scheduled to be played in without fans at Canadian Tire Centre and three games set to be played in front of 50 per cent capacity.

In the NBA, the Toronto Raptors have seven more home games set to be played without fans in attendance and three in line to be played in front of 50 per cent capacity.

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